Series: "The Gift of the Holy Spirit #15"
TROPES*: THE LORD'S TABLE
* figure of speech
Tropes is a linguistics term meaning "figurative language." Figures of speech are used in the Bible to convey fundamental truths. Jesus used the word “fox” to characterize a king.
“And [Jesus] said to them, 'Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course'” (Luke 13:32).
The Pharisees told Jesus that Herod wanted to kill him and that He should leave their country. This is understood to be King Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, who is described by Josephus as a crafty prince. Jesus apparently agrees with Josephus' characterization for He calls Herod a “fox”. This appellation is a “figure of speech.” It tells us something about Herod or at least what Jesus thought of him. He was likened to the culturally perception of the animal, fox.
"Fox" → Herod. The word "fox" is a trope; i.e., "a word or expression used in a figurative sense: figure of speech" (Merriam-Webster).
The Bible uses such figures of speech as a communication and teaching device. For example, in John 6:35: Jesus said that He is "the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst." "Bread" → Jesus. Again, in John 8:12, Jesus said that He is the "light of the world." "Light" → Jesus. In Revelation 19:7, Jesus is the Lamb and He has a bride. "Lamb" → Jesus. Note: tropes of the Holy Spirit are considered in lesson #3, "Who Is The Spirit?"
In Psalm 18:2, the Lord (JehovahH3068) is the Rock, Fortress, as well as Deliverer. "The Rock" → The Lord; "Fortress" → The Lord; "Deliverer" → The Lord. And in John 14:6, Jesus claims to be "the Way (a traveler's road) and the Truth and the Life." "The Way" → Jesus; “The Truth” → Jesus; “The Life” → Jesus.
Compare these to the use of the expression "the Word" for Jesus in John 1:1, 13: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"; "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
“The Word” → Jesus.
The Greek word used here is "logosG3056" and it is definitely ascribing the word logos to Jesus. Obviously, Jesus is a being and not an abstract "word". This is a "trope." The trope tells us something about Jesus, especially what the Scriptures thought of Him.
When the gift of the Holy Spirit of Acts 2:38 is considered, the question could be asked, "Why does the Bible use the "gift" (dorean) word that is derived from the altar/honor (doron) offering?" The answer should help us to appreciate what the audience understood the apostle was referring to."
"THE TABLE GIFT"
“And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
Abraham. Abraham went to Mt. Moriah as commanded by the Lord to offer his son Isaac. When there, Isaac asked his father, “Here is the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:7,8). And God did provide the offering. The angel of God stopped him from offering his son and said, “Now I know that thou fearest God.” Abraham offered the ram caught in the bushes that God provided in Isaac's stead. One lesson to us through Abraham is the limitation of sinful man: no matter how sincere we may be, we who are sinners are unable provide an acceptable sacrifice.
Thanksgiving Day comes at the end of each November. American families traditionally commemorate the holiday together. What kind of table do they share? Our point is that we use "table" figuratively for what it contains. It should not be odd then that the Bible uses it figuratively as well.
Figurative Expression of “Table.”
We use the word “table” figuratively to represent the sharing of a meal. We even refer to a beautiful table when we are but describing what is set on the table. The table is even probably hidden from view underneath a table cloth. So we are not talking literally about the table.
The ancients used the word “table” figuratively as well. A sacrifice with its feast is called a “table.” A table can refer to either or both the animal offering and the adjunct eating celebration of the sacrifice. The apostle Paul uses the word “table” in 1 Corinthians 10 for the eating of any religious sacrifice. His subject is the error of eating both a sacrifice offered to any altar or idol and eating the Lord's Supper which commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus. He calls both a “table.”
“Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakersi of the altar? ...But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the table (trapezeG5132)ii of the Lord, and of the table (trapezeG5132) of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:18, 20, 21).
Prior to the crucifixion of Jesus, the norm in the religious world was animal sacrifices which included the “giver” participating by eating of his offering. This was a communion between the giver and their god. “When one offered a sacrifice to God, one’s mouth would water, knowing that he would be able to partake of the sacrifice.”iii They ate of their offerings. This was true for both pagans and Jews. The ancient writings of Herodotus, Homer, Plato, Theocritus, Macrobius, and Alexander ab Alexandro give examples of sacrifices followed immediately by a feast. Following Moses' instructions, the faithful Jews offered authorized sacrifices to the true God and ate of certain offerings. Amos 2:8 illustrates the reclining and eating at a sacrifice: “They laid themselves down to eat of the sacrifice that was offered on the altar.”iv
Those that ate of the sacrifices to idols were said to eat of the “table of demons.” Indeed, to eat of the sacrificial offering was to actually “have fellowship with devils” (verse 20). Figurative, but certainly meaningful in its dark way. On the other hand, a contrast is made of Christians eating of “the table of the Lord” which commemorates the human sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the “table of demons” is eating of a sacrifice then would not the counter argument for the “table of the Lord” be eating of the Lord's sacrifice (but as a memorial to His body and blood).
Man sinned and the result of sin is death but the grace of God to us is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus is made death for us by sacrifice for literally it is by “grace are we saved through the Faith and not from ourselves, this is the sacrificial giftG1435 of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
From the birth in Egypt of God's kingdom of Israel until its demise in Jerusalem at the cross of Jesus, God required the observance of the Passover sacrificial feast. The faithful were told through Moses to keep the Passover sacrifice annually to the LORD. Its observance was eventually designated at the temple in Jerusalem where God put His name (Deuteronomy 16:2). “The fourteenth day of the second month [Nissan] at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it” (Numbers 9:10-12). Three foods were essential to the Passover sacrifice celebration, roasted lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs.v
Finally, at the last authorized observance of the sacrifice feast,vi in the evening which began the Jewish day, Jesus ate the unleavened bread feast with his apostles in Jerusalem. According to the records in the “Gospels”, a roasted lamb is not mentioned.vii Why would the sacrifice be not mentioned? I would suggest they did not have it for the following reason.
Biblically, a Passover lamb was supposed to be chosen by families on the 10th of Nissan and remain in the city until the 14th when it was killed (Exodus 12; Numbers 9). It is calculated that Jesus, God's chosen Lamb, entered Jerusalem on the 10th and was “set aside from the flock” for five days by being examined by the religious leaders and tested before He was sacrificed (Matthew 21:23-27). The consensus of some is that Jesus was killed as God's Passover on the 14th of Nissan, the same dayviii that He and the Twelve had shared the Passover Meal (John 3:16).
Since the record is void of any reference to a roasted lamb during the Lord's “Last Supper”,ix surely one explanation would be that Jesus confidently knew that He Himself was almost immediately to be sacrificed as the true Passover. During the Passover meal, Jesus instituted the memorial feast of bread for His body and the cup for His blood sacrificex and said “This do in remembrance of me.”
But Jesus brought an end to the animal sacrifices. Jesus gave the ultimate and final sacrifice; a flesh sacrifice by Deity Himself through His Son. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Christ offered the one sacrifice for the sins of man. Moses' Levitical sacrifices only served as a shadow of that sacrifice. The Levitical “table” is no more to be enjoyed. It ceased. However, notice that the table for eating with the Lord's sacrifice continues de facto through the memorial of “the Lord's Table.” Here, Paul calls the breaking of bread and drinking the cup (the Lord's Supper) the “Table of the Lord.” It is therefore a celebration feast that is an adjunct to His sacrifice. The sacrifice continues!
The Lord's Supper is a part of the "Lord's Table"; however, the "Lord's Table" encompasses more than just the memorial supper. It is an enduring and efficacious sacrifice. It is a commitment of oneself.
I perceive, therefore, that the Table of the Lord has three parts.xi First, we observe the memorial Lord's Table (Communion) once a week with the assembly of the saints (Acts 20:7).
Second, there is the requirement of an acceptable gift-offering. But we as sinful man/woman cannot provide the sufficient offering. This is where God steps in and has provided for us the sacrificial gift (doran, altar gift; Ephesians 2:8). Hence, by God's grace we are saved through the Faith, the gospel. It is God's power to save (Romans 1:16, 17) for “therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.”
Third, we are to present ourselves in a worthy manner for participation in the sacrifice. In 1 Corinthians 5:7, the apostle does not limit the “Passover Feast” to the Lord's Supper, but expands it to include our surrendered lives and living.xii “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” “The Feast” (Table) here is used figuratively for our behaving as a sincere Christians. “Keep the feast” is present active subjunctive; i.e., literally in the original, it means, “Let us keep on keeping the feast, a perpetual feast,xiii and keep the leaven out.”
If we accept that the gift of the Holy Spirit of Acts 2:38 has to do with the Spirit's prophecy through the apostles (i.e., called "the Faith" in Ephesians 2:8 and Jude 3), then we should be able to readily understand that the object of the Spirit's message being God's sacrificial doron gift of His Son. This may explain why 3000 people would of good conscience
at this Temple where Mosaic sacrifices were wont to be made, submit to the Messianic fellowship of the offering of the Son of God. Hence, they would logically be baptized for remission of sins; is this not consistent with the message that they gladly heard? It is the "taste of the heavenly gift and who have become partners with the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of God's word and the powers of the coming age" (Hebrews 6:4,5, ISV).
i partakers -μετέχωG3348. To share or participate; by implication belong to, eat (or drink): - be partaker, pertain, take part, use.
ii “Table”G5132. Four legs. a table or stool (as being four legged), usually for food (figuratively a meal).
iii “Leviticus: Sacrifice and Sanctification.” https://bible.org/seriespage/2-law-burnt-offerings-leviticus-11-17.
iv Historically the custom from time to time was to recline while eating. During the first century, Jesus' disciples would so recline.
vi The cross is the dividing line between the Old and New Covenants (Hebrews 8:7-13; 9:15,16).
vii "The Bible discusses what happened during that dinner, but it doesn't detail what Jesus and his 12 dining companions ate," Generoso Urciuoli, archaeologist at Italy's Petrie center and author of theArcheoricette blog on ancient food, told Discovery News. http://news.discovery.com/history/religion/last-supper-menu-stew-lamb-wine-of-course- more150402.htm.
viii Jewish day began at evening.
ix The lamb would have had to have been sacrificed by the officials for the evening meal. No sacrifice was mentioned. John 18:28 suggests that the officials had changed their rules for the Passover eating to be later.
x Blood was not literally drunk but was poured out on the altar.
xi The Lord's Supper is observed weekly: “upon the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7).
xii Romans 12:1.